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When you work at Uniqlo, designing a pretty dress is not enough to get it on the shelves. WWD interviews Uniqlo's new chief creative officer LeAnn Nealz, who wants to bring some femininity to the famously unisex brand. Nealz explains some of the pushback she's been getting from Uniqlo, saying: "You should be able to come to Uniqlo and get a great dress. I did 30 amazing dresses for fall. I went to Japan and out of that, I left with 10. It's a very different culture. There's a practicality, so sometimes it can be challenging. You're not adding ruffles, but you're working with fabric mills to develop new types of yarns."
Despite the design challenges, Uniqlo's US CEO Larry Meyer believes Nealz's point of view is crucial to Uniqlo's expansion in the US. "She has an American sense and a female sense that's important to evolving the brand," Meyer says.
Nealz's contributions to Uniqlo thus far include more than 10 new dress styles, from belted shirtdresses to tunics, all priced under $69. She's also introduced gingham rain coats, French linen tops, and expanded sportswear options. And if all else fails, she adds color. "Color is who we are. There's an opportunity to build and expand on that. I want to do it in a bigger way, 50 different colors for down [jackets] or cashmere," Nealz says.
· Uniqlo Gets Aggressive With U.S. Store Plan [WWD]
· PSA: Alexandre Plokhov for Uniqlo Is Now on Sale [Racked]
· Uniqlo Has a Plan for Finally Turning a US Profit [Racked]
· How Uniqlo Plans to Become America's Top Retailer [Racked]